So just how big, corrupt, and downright shady is Big Pharma? These 25 facts will absolutely shock you.
1. 50%, or 1 in 2, Americans are on at least one prescription drug.
2. 25% of all U.S. women, or 1 in 4, are taking a prescription drug for mental health.
3. An independent survey found that 66% of all new drugs released on the American market are similar to existing drugs without offering any additional benefit.
4. Just how big and profitable are the top 15 pharma companies? Here is a breakdown by market value:
Johnson & Johnson: $276 billion
Novartis: $273 billion
Roche: $248 billion
Pfizer: $212 billion
Merck: $164 billion
Sanofi: $134 billion
Bayer: $123 billion
Novo-Nordisk: $118 billion
Bristol-Myers Squibb: $115 billion
AbbVie: $110 billion
GlaxoSmithKline: $103 billion
Eli Lilly: $98 billion
AstraZeneca: $84 billion
Teva Pharmaceutical: $59 billion
Shire: $49 billion
5. To put that in perspective, top pharma firms Johnson & Johnson and Novartis are each worth more than the Gross Domestic Product of countries like Finland, Chile, Hong Kong, Ireland, Pakistan, etc., and would rank in the top 40 economies in the world!
6. It’s estimated that global expenditures for prescription drugs are now over $1.1 trillion each year.
7. To put that number in context, the total U.S. budget for discretionary spending in 2015 was $1.1 trillion (a trillion is a thousand billions!), including our total expenditures for food and agriculture, social security, unemployment and labor, transportation, Medicare, education, veteran’s benefits, science, energy, environment, and governmental spending.
8. At least four of the world’s ten largest pharmaceutical companies are now American.
9. North America holds 41.8% market share for the entire world’s pharmaceuticals. (The EU has about 26.8% market share and the rest of the world combined adds up to the remaining 31.4%.)
10. Through the 21st century, super drug producers like the U.S., Canada, Japan and Europe are expected to rise to over 85% of all market share.
11. As of 2014, pharma companies were spending around $4.53 billion on ad campaigns every year, and increasing at a rate of about 18% year over year. Ad spending is actually down from an all-time high of $5.4 billion in 2006. To put that in perspective, Coca Cola spent “only” $3.3 billion in advertising in 2014.
12. Pfizer spends the most on advertising ($1.4 billion that year), while Eli Lilly spent $272 million in ads just on their erectile dysfunction drug Cialis, the most of any individual product.
13. With hundreds of drugs in trial, research and development (R & D) spending is huge for big pharma. In fact, in 2013 ten of those 15 big pharma companies I listed before spent $65.8 billion on R & D alone.
14. 40% of all finished drugs sold in the U.S. are made overseas and 80% of all active ingredients in U.S. pharmaceuticals are made abroad, where the FDA has no jurisdiction and big pharma can evade U.S. standards and regulations.
15. 1Clinical trials conducted in other countries – many of them purposely held in poor and developing nations where the populace is desperate, uneducated, and to poor to afford medicine – are used to gain research to submit to the FDA for approval in the U.S. In fact, it’s estimated that 80% of all U.S. drugs are approved on data and research from foreign clinical trials.
16. According to Forbes, pharmaceuticals tied with banks for the highest average profit margins of any industry at 19%. That out-profited the other highest industries like oil & gas, auto makers, and media stocks.
17. With all of those billions being spent on ads and a collective trillions of dollars in market share at stake, it’s not uncommon for big pharma companies to bend – and break – the laws when it comes to truth in advertising. In fact, in 2012 GlaxoSmithKline paid out a $3 billion fine and pled guilty to criminal charges of knowingly promoting some of its top-selling anti-depressant drugs Paxil and Wellbutrin to people under the age of 18, while neither drug was FDA approved for use by minors.
18. Similarly, Johnson & Johnson paid a $2.2 billion fine in 2013 for promotion of off-label drug use, and Pfizer got hit with a $2.3 billion levy in 2009 for illegally marketing its top painkiller, Bextra.
19. These indiscretions are so common they’re hard to regulate and most don’t ever make it through lengthy court battles. But even when facing a fine over $2 billion, these companies don’t even suffer financially, as that is only a few weeks profit for most of them.
20. Big pharma is getting bigger, as some of the largest mergers and acquisitions have occurred in the industry. In 1999, Pfizer bought Warner-Lambert for $87.3 billion, the sixth biggest mergers and acquisition in U.S. history, in order to gain control of Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering drug that is the best-selling pharmaceutical of all time.
21. The five best selling drugs worldwide are:
1. Humira (adalimumab) from AbbVie (sales: $9.265 billion)
2. Remicade (infliximab) from Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co. (sales: $8.215 billion)
3. Enbrel (etanercept) from Amgen and Pfizer (sales: $7.963 billion)
4. Advair (fluticasone and salmeterol) from GlaxoSmithKline (sales: $7.904 billion)
5. Rituxan (rituximab, MabThera) from Roche (sales: $7.285 billion)
22. Who is selling all those drugs? Big pharma employs about 65,000 pharmaceutical sales representatives at any given time in the U.S. alone. On average, each sales rep aims to meet with and influence 180 doctors each month.
23. Pharma sales reps attempt to sway doctors to prescribe their drugs using many methods, like fancy dinners, vacations, hotel rooms, and even monetary gifts. In fact, a study concluded that between 2009 and 2011, drug companies paid doctors at least $76 million in gifts – in the state of Massachuesetts alone! The real number is probably much higher, as gifts under $50 don’t even have to be reported.
24. Big pharma is one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington, influencing laws, public policy, and political elections. Every year, Big Pharma lobbies on more than 1,500 pieces of legislation, spending upwards of $100 billion to influence the outcome.
25. Year over year, drug recalls are increasing by about 309%, with an average of about 1,742 prescribed drug recalls every year.
I originally wrote this article for Dr. Charles Ward and his Innate Legacy chiropractic coaching system.